A challenge too far?
The Trial of Derek Chauvin brings into sharp focus once again, a sense of deep rooted racism at the heart of society. There is a sense that it's never far away from any aspect of daily life and that nowhere is that more evident than in law enforcement. Institutional racism is a reality and what is very disturbing, is that those in positions of power are not fearful of wearing the T-Shirt.
The devastating impact of watching a black man die at the hands of a police officer is no less shocking today than it was a year ago. The truly disturbing aspect of this racist criminal act, was the body language of Derek Chauvin. The defence tried to suggest that he felt threatened. The beauty of video evidence, is that it accurately captures the nuances that can never be assessed from a written statement of observation. It is clear from the footage, Mr Chauvin is calm, relaxed and unaffected by the presence of the relatively small crowd that were witnessing his crime.
The burning question is, would Chauvin and his colleagues behaved differently had George Floyd been white? That is a question in all honesty, that can only be answered by Derek Chauvin and his colleagues. My own personal view is that he would not. Regardless, the fact remains that the actions he took to subdue a man that was in a prone position and handcuffed, represents a blatant disregard for the safety of an individual in his charge. The racial element to this abhorrent behaviour, by a law enforcement officer, caused many Americans to take a long hard look at their views on racism. It tore back a veil on what many already knew was a deep rooted problem. It was so emotive, it caused millions to come out onto the streets to support minority communities and to protest against numerous examples of the police killing black people. Most shocking of all, was Trump's racist response to it and therein lay the heart of the problem. The GOP is openly adopting racist legislation as part of their political agenda moving forward. This to me is horrifying and a cause for major concern, as racism is added to their political rules of engagement.
All the evidence suggests, institutional racism is real and nowhere is it more prevalent that in law enforcement. The problem with this statement is that it tarnishes the vast majority of officers who are not racist and do an excellent job serving and protecting their communities. Racism is and will always be a problem, simply because of the tribal nature of the human condition. No child is born racist, they are taught it by a society that is far from perfect. It is such a complex subject, that there are no easy answers. You could not have a racist thought in your body, then be the victim of a street robbery by a black person. Your view of black people is then tainted as a result of your experience. Does it then make you a racist, when cross over the road when being approached by a black person, as a response to your experience?
Do you have a subconscious bias when it comes to your interaction with members of minority communities? For example, as an employer, would you choose a white person over a black person if they were equally qualified? Does it cause you pause for thought, when considering a woman's status in muslim society? How do you feel about the abhorrent practice of genital mutilation of young girls that takes place in some ethnic communities? Does it irritate you that a jew who observes Shabbat can't work on the sabbath? There are numerous examples that deviate for our secular societal beliefs and observations. These place minority communities at risk from discrimination just because they are different.
Now here's the kicker, if discrimination and racism is a black and white thing then how do you explain sex discrimination or disability discrimination? Just in the way that a black person can be the victim of racism, women have long been the victim of gender discrimination. You might argue that if you are black and a woman, then you really did draw the short straw. What I'm trying to say in a very clumsy way, is that division and separation from a variety of differences, points to the human condition. Whether it's religious discrimination, sex discrimination, race discrimination, or any other discrimination, it is wrong, we know it's wrong and yet we perpetuate it. The tragedy comes from how we embed these discriminations in our society.
It is today, as was a year ago, clear to me that George Floyd was murdered by Derek Chauvin. I am entitled to that view based on what I saw at the time and my forensic analysis of all the footage I examined at the time I produced my short film 'The Murder of George Floyd', which I include a link to below.
Under law, Derek Chauvin is entitled to a fair trial where the evidence is presented along with any mitigating factors in his defence and I respect that. The problem the US has, is that there have been numerous cases of this nature, albeit not as infamous as this one, where officers have simply walked free. Rodney King, being the shining example.
US justice is on trial right now and the world is watching.